USS Savannah (AOR-4)
|Builder:||General Dynamics Corp., Quincy, Massachusetts|
|Laid down:||22 January 1969|
|Launched:||23 April 1970|
|Commissioned:||5 December 1970|
|Decommissioned:||28 July 1995|
|Struck:||29 October 1998|
|Motto:||We Never Stop Pumping|
|1 battle star & Meritorious Unit Commendation (Vietnam)|
|Fate:||Transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal|
|Class and type:||Wichita-class replenishment oiler|
|Displacement:||40,100 long tons (40,743 t) full|
|Length:||659 ft (201 m)|
|Beam:||96 ft (29 m)|
|Draft:||35 ft (11 m)|
|Propulsion:||3 × boilers, steam turbines, 2 × shafts, 32,000 shp (23,862 kW)|
|Speed:||25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)|
|Complement:||22 officers, 398 enlisted|
|Aircraft carried:||2 × CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters|
USS Savannah (AOR-4), was a Wichita-class replenishment oiler of the United States Navy. The fifth Savannah was laid down on 22 January 1969 by the General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division at Quincy, Massachusetts, launched on 23 April 1970, sponsored by Mrs. Ralph L. Shifley, wife of Vice Admiral R. L. Shifley, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, and commissioned on 5 December 1970, Capt. Bernard P. Williams, Jr., in command.
Following shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Savannah proceeded to her homeport at Norfolk, Virginia. Arriving on 12 May, she completed post-shakedown availability on 9 August, and prepared for deployment to the Mediterranean.
Savannah departed Norfolk on 20 September. En route to Rota, Spain, she refueled ships participating in a Caribbean exercise. After reporting to the 6th Fleet on 8 October, Savannah operated in Task Group 60.1. By the end of the year, she had replenished 178 ships.
Savannah continued to operate with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean until early March 1972. On 9 March, she headed west for Norfolk and arrived there eight days later. Her stay in the United States, however, was cut short by the exigencies of the Vietnam War. On 25 April, she exited the Chesapeake Bay and, four days later, transited the Panama Canal. Savannah arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, on 20 May and began a five-month tour replenishing the fleet along the coast of Vietnam. She made six line swings to the Gulf of Tonkin during this time. Each swing was punctuated by a 4-6 day load out period in Subic Bay.
Savannah departed Subic Bay on 5 November, bound for Norfolk. She transited the Panama Canal on 4 December and arrived at Norfolk on the 8th. Savannah operated out of Norfolk, along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean, for almost all of 1973. On 3 December 1973, she again headed eastward to join the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. From 12 December until late May 1974, she supported units of the 6th Fleet on-station in the Mediterranean. On 3 June 1974, she re-entered Norfolk.
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From December 1976 through August of 1977 the ship was laid up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for restructuring of her aft section. The 3" 50 cal. dual mounts were removed for twin helo hangars for a pair of CH46D SeaKnight helicopters. The ship visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard again in 1980-1981, which saw the installation of a Sea Sparrow missile system and Phalanx CIWS.
Decommissioning and sale
Savannah was decommissioned on 28 July 1995, at Norfolk, Virginia, moored at the former Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia for a few years and was finally laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River, Fort Eustis, Virginia. The ship was struck from the Naval Register on 29 October 1998, and transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. On 27 January 2009, the Department of Transportation signed a fee for service contract worth $515,726 with ESCO Marine of Brownsville, Texas, to scrap ex-Savannah.
The scrapping of the Savannah was featured on the television show Break It Down which aired on 8 July 2010 on the National Geographic Channel. Extensive footage of the ship was featured, chronicling the struggles with removing toxic items like asbestos prior to salvaging and cut up.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of USS Savannah at NavSource Naval History
- USS Savannah website
- Wildenberg, Thomas (1996). Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy, 1912-1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Retrieved 2009-04-28.